Homemade fresh cheese with basil and tomatoes

Homemade Fresh Cheese Recipe

This soft, mild homemade cheese has wide appeal among children and adults. With the touch of a button, the Proofer makes the key 12-hour ripening period foolproof.

Simple fresh cheeses are not only delicious, they are great projects for anyone new to home cheese making. Part of the process involves maintaining a gallon of milk at the proper ripening temperature for 12-14 hours, a step which used to be quite challenging in a home environment. The Proofer’s accurate temperature control makes ripening easy as can be.

Fresh cheeses require a few supplies that are easy to find online and not too costly. You’ll need animal or vegetable rennet, cheese starter, and butter muslin which is a finely woven cheesecloth. Optional items are cheese salt, a minimally-processed, iodine-free salt, and cheese molds, which can help produce a lovely shape.

Homemade fresh cheese with salmon, radishes, and dill

This recipe calls for a mesophilic starter, which is the general term for starter cultures that work at warm room temperature, 70-100 °F / 21-38 °C. We recommend a starter culture that contains LLD, lactococcus lactis subspecies biovar diacetylactis. When LLD is included in a culture it can produce the delicious and naturally-occurring flavor component diacetyl, which gives the cheese a rich and buttery quality. We have used Flora Danica for this recipe.

This cheese is delicious on pizza, as part of a burrito or taco filling, and also served with crackers or fresh bread. For a lovely party-ready presentation, shape the cheese and coat the outside with a blend of herbs or pepper.

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Yield: This recipe makes about 2 lbs 7 oz /1.1 kg of cheese.
Timing: 24 Hours: Start this recipe in the evening and allow the milk to ripen overnight. Drain the whey the next morning and put the cheese into jars or molds that same evening.

Ingredients

U.S.
Metric
High-quality whole milk1 gal4 L
Mesophilic starter*⅛ tsp1 g
Rennet, animal or vegetable3 drops3 drops
Water, non-chlorinated⅓ cup80 ml
Salt1-3 tsp to taste
6-18 g to taste
*We used Flora Danica for this recipe.

Equipment: Brød and Taylor Folding Proofer & Slow Cooker (without water tray), thermometer, butter muslin, as well as a large thick-bottomed stockpot no more than 8” / 20 cm tall and with a lid. Cheese molds are optional. Everything that will touch the milk and cheese should be thoroughly clean and dry.

Note: When using the Folding Proofer to make cheese, be certain there is no water in the water tray. The water tray is not needed for making cheese. You can remove it from the Proofer, if you like, or leave it empty. But do not add water because it will affect temperature settings.

Get ready. Set up the Proofer with the wire rack in place and the thermostat at 72 °F / 22 °C. Dilute the rennet by adding 3 drops of rennet to 1/3 C / 79 ml water and stir to combine. Note: the recipe does not use all the rennet-water mixture.

Pot filled with homemade fresh cheese ripening

Warm the milk to 86 °F / 30 °C and add starter plus rennet. Pour the milk into a large stainless steel pot and slowly heat to 86 °F / 30 °C. Stir often to prevent scorching the bottom. When the milk reaches 86 °F / 30 °C, sprinkle the granules of starter over the surface of the milk and stir well to combine. Add 2 tsp / 10 g of the rennet-water mixture to the milk and stir.

Ripen for 12-14 hours.
Put the lid on the pot and place the pot in the Proofer, undisturbed, for 12 hours.

Check the curd. Open the Proofer and remove the lid from the pot of milk. Gently tip the pot a little to the side to see if the milk has set. When ready, it will have formed a yogurt-like curd. If the milk has not yet set, replace the lid and continue to ripen until set, checking every 30 minutes.

Drain the Whey. Drape a large piece (about 36″ / 90 cm square) of butter muslin over a bowl large enough to hold 1 gal / 4 L of milk. Spoon or gently pour the curd into the muslin-lined bowl.
Gather the muslin at the top, forming a bag, and tie the string around it. Once the bag is tied securely, form a noose with the other end of the string and hang the bag to drain for 6-12 hours.

Drain the whey

Salt and chill the cheese. Scrape the cheese from the butter muslin into a bowl. (Butter muslin can be washed and re-used). Add cheese salt or sea salt to taste and mix gently to distribute. Spoon the cheese into mason jars or pack it into cheese molds, cover and refrigerate. If using molds, set them on a plate or sheet pan to catch drips. The cheese will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Bread with homemade fresh cheese, prosciutto, and arugula
Homemade fresh cheese in moulds

Frequently Asked Questions

How is this fresh homemade cheese different from other cheeses?

Our homemade cheese matures in the controlled temperature environment of the Proofer. Flavor and aroma of the cheese is developed during this resting period in the Proofer.

What kind of milk should I buy?

Pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized because the naturally occurring bacteria in the milk is needed for the curds to form. Both cow’s milk and goat’s milk can be used. Goat’s milk cheeses tend to be whiter than cheeses made from cow’s milk, and also tend to have a more pronounced flavor.

Is salt important in homemade cheeses?

Yes, the type of salt can influence flavor and the increase of salt increases storage life. Goat cheeses are often very salty which results directly from the goat’s milk and a factor which has the effect of prolonging their storage life.

Can I use vegetable based rennet and not animal derived?

Yes, both types of rennet are available and can be used in this recipe.

Can I use a cast iron pot?

No. The reaction of acids with metallic salts in the pot, when absorbed into the curd, will result in a metallic taste.

Why didn’t the curds form?

1. The milk may be ultra-pasteurized. Dairies are not required by law to label their milk ultra-pasteurized.
2. You may be stirring your milk too long after adding the rennet.
3. The milk may not be fresh.
4. There may be trace amounts of chlorine in the water you used.

How do I make certain there is no chlorine in the water?

Use distilled water.

How can I make the cheese a little more firm?

Allow the curds to drain in the mold longer. The longer they drain, the firmer the cheese will be. If you prefer a creamier, more spreadable cheese you can try reducing the time it drains. The amount of whey retained in the curd after draining determines firmness and texture of the cheese.

How long can I store my homemade cheese?

Our homemade cheese needs to be refrigerated and will keep for about 1 week.

What can I use the leftover whey for?

While whey is a normal byproduct of the cheese-making process it has plenty of uses. Suggestions include:
1. Substitute whey in any baking recipe calling for water or milk.
2. Use whey instead of water to cook rice, pasta, oatmeal, beans, or potatoes.
3. Use whey in soups and stews or while making soup stock instead of using water.
4. Feed to your pets. Whey is often fed to animals on farms.
5. Add whey to shakes and smoothies for additional protein.
6. Make ricotta cheese, if you can use it right away. Heat the leftover whey to 165 degrees F, remove from heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. If curds to do not form, add a tablespoon of vinegar, heat, and let sit again. Drain curds with a cheesecloth or wire mesh strainer for 5-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
7. Make Norwegian Mysost cheese, a favorite in Norway and visitors. The color of the cheese becomes a caramel color brown to dark brown depending on the amount of cream added. The cheese is somewhat firm and buttery and takes hours of simmering to reduce the whey.

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